With the 2022 regular season almost over, it is that time for us to go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this season.
Today, we look at catcher Kevin Plawecki.
This was one of the weird footnotes to the Rangers’ 2022 season.
Kevin Plawecki is a 31 year old journeyman catcher. He was a first round pick of the Mets in the 2012 draft, taken #35 overall, six picks after the Rangers selected Lewis Brinson and four picks before the Rangers selected Joey Gallo.
Plawecki has spent his career as a backup catcher, first with the Mets, then with the Cleveland Indians, and then, beginning in 2020, with the Boston Red Sox.
Plawecki was designated for assignment in September, 2022, by the Red Sox. Immediately, there was talk that the Rangers would be interested in signing Plawecki once he cleared waivers.
This was weird on a couple of levels. First of all, if the Rangers were interested in Plawecki, wouldn’t they just claim him on waivers, rather than waiting for him to clear waivers and then try to sign him? The argument against would be financial...Plawecki was making $2.25 million for the Red Sox, while if the Rangers signed him it would be for the minimum, so they’d be saving, by my back of the envelope math, about $125,000 by waiting until he cleared waivers and then signing him. Texas would also sign the waiver claim fee, which I think is $50,000, but my Googling didn’t give me a clear answer to that.
Secondly, though...why would a team playing out the string, and that has a couple of young catchers on the active roster and a third catcher available in AAA, prioritize adding a veteran catcher for the final few weeks of the year?
Reportedly, the Rangers liked Plawecki, saw him as a potential backup catcher option in 2023, and wanted to see how he fit in with the club over the rest of 2022. Which, again, seems a bit weird, given the Rangers have Mitch Garver and Jonah Heim as their presumed catching tandem in 2023, plus Sam Huff hanging around.
It is worth noting that Plawecki hit .305/.364/.414 for the Red Sox from 2020-21, a period of time when Tim Hyers, the Rangers’ current hitting coach, was the hitting coach for Boston. That’s the best stretch of hitting Plawecki has had in his career, and much better than the .217/.287/.287 slash line he put up in 2022 for Boston. Maybe Hyers went to bat for him, or there was a belief that working with Hyers again could get Plawecki’s bat going again.
In any case, Plawecki joined the Rangers for about two and a half weeks, got three starts, had three hits, and now is a free agent. And maybe he will be back with Texas this spring on a minor league deal. Or maybe he will be somewhere else.